Review: John-Luke Roberts – All I Wanna Do Is [FX: GUNSHOTS] With a [FX: GUN RELOADING] and a [FX: CASH REGISTER] and Perform Some Comedy!

A winning manifesto on the importance of absurdism

comedy review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 08 Aug 2018
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John-Luke Roberts

It's futile to try to describe a show so clearly devoted to avoiding the easy salve of narrative neatness. What's this about? It's about horrible old crones; it's about the Romans; it's about humans looking up at the stars and trying to make sense of the crushing infinity of space; it's about the Spice Girls. To be fair, it's mostly about the Spice Girls.

This freewheeling escapism, though, is tightly and cunningly wrought. There's a repeated conversation with God which serves as punctuation in what could be an overwhelming array of characters. And despite this cast of thousands, each is beautifully delineated. John-Luke Roberts's vocal range, in particular, is a joy. That's all wrapped up in a challenge he sets himself at the start that he can make us laugh at something entirely mundane. It's no spoiler in a gushing five-star review to reveal that he more than meets this challenge. Genuinely, it's hard to believe it's possible until it happens.

There's an explanatory section, a manifesto on the importance of absurdism, which on balance Roberts keeps just the right side of lecturing. It's totally worth the risk, providing a route into a style that could be quite alienating. Absurdity, Roberts tells us, isn't just fun but is vital. We cling, sometimes bitterly and dangerously, onto stories because they help us comprehend the world and make us feel safe (subtext: Brexit). We can, though, be helped to question the ways we construct reality, to delight in the "laugh of not understanding, of wonder".

John-Luke Roberts for Prime Minister would be a terrible idea. The country would resemble something between a nuclear winter and a Dalí painting. Surely, though, there's room for a junior minister for the absurd?